Is it Gluten Intolerance or Allergies?

In 2012 medical authorities officially recognized that certain individuals could have adverse health effects from gluten ingestion, even though blood tests and biopsy results show a negative result for celiac disease, and no discernible damage to the intestinal tract can be found.

Improved digestion associated with a gluten-free lifestyle also may relieve symptoms associated with other intestinal disorder such as lactose intolerance.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by the gliadin fraction of gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb key nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Common symptoms include anemia, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, cramps and bloating, and irritability.

Gluten Characteristic Symptoms

In the absence of positive tests for celiac disease (blood tests or intestinal biopsy) or other known intestinal pathologies, non-celiac gluten sensitivity should be suspected in patients with any combination of the following symptoms:

  • abdominal pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • cramps
  • bloating
  • fatigue
  • joint pain

Wheat allergy is common in people who have other allergic symptoms such as asthma, hay fever, eczema, hives, and stuffy/runny nose.

Gluten-Containing Foods

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and barley. In the case of wheat, gliadin has been isolated as the toxic fraction. It is the gluten in the flour that helps bread and other baked goods bind and prevents crumbling. This feature has made gluten widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods.

Gluten is actually composed of two different proteins: gliadin (a prolamin protein) and glutenin (a glutelin protein) which is found in:

  • Wheat
  • barley
  • bulgur oats (don’t contain gluten themselves, but are often processed in plants that produce gluten-containing grains and may be contaminated)
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Triticale and mir (a cross between wheat and rye)

Gluten may also show up as ingredients in barley malt, chicken broth, malt vinegar, some salad dressings, veggie burgers (if not specified gluten-free) and soy sauce.

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